Effective Tips for Church Communication

Effective Tips for Communication in the Church 

Running a successful communication plan in the church can be an endless marathon within ministry life.  Those of us that often tackle such an initiative find ourselves scratching our heads on Monday morning wondering what will connect with people this week.  We try to find the things that are working, but we continuously find things that need improvement.  

In this article, I hope these 10 tips can scratch your curiosity about improving your approach to church communications.  This is certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully you can glean something no matter where you stand today in your communication journey. 

One: Define your Audience 

This is the first thing I slap on the screen when asked to lead a talk about communications.  It amazes me how often this core truth can quickly change the conversation as we decide how to put a communication effort into motion.  Gravity will keep your plan grounded until you define the makeup of the receiving audience and the best ways to reach them.  

I usually introduce our two common audiences: internal and external.  Internal refers to those who are staff, members, or those who closely follow your church. Meanwhile, an external audience is considered for those who do not regularly interact with you.  In the church world, external can refer to those who do not know the message of Jesus Christ.  While I love our church families in the global church, I think the external audience is my favorite, but most churches only spend a small portion of time focusing on this group.  

Two: Build a Communication Strategy 

Any organization and/or group that is perceived in a positive light with a strong brand usually has a strong communication strategy.  Whether you have a staff of one or twenty-plus, a structure for communicating can help set expectations for all sorts of questions that develop along the way.  Adhere to a plan and your daily questioning or uncertainty of how to disseminate information will be greatly decreased.  Increase the viability by decreasing the confusion. 

A communications strategy can include definitions of your audience, goals, avenues, platforms, wording, and other categories that will help you set expectations for yourself and your team.  

Third: Make Less Noise 

I often have to admit this to myself, but it is the hard truth.  There is so much noise in my personal life from ads, notifications, and emails that it is hard for me to keep up with my family’s messages each day.  One of my daily goals is to proactively respond to my wife’s text messages in a timely manner.  Honestly, our lives are busy with too much noise, and we often unknowingly miss the content that matters most to us.  

I would assume most church members want to be better informed.  In all that you do, send information out when it is needed most, but avoid sending information out just to send something out.  Try not to add to the noise that is already present in our lives.  

There is a saying you may have heard “Less is More.”  Keep this in mind with your total word count as well as your design efforts. 

Four: Strive for Quality 

Designing communication pieces can be an incredible creative experience especially when you are called to this role in full-time ministry.  Sometimes though, I see other variables dictating the creative opportunities of the content creator.   Do you follow me?  Unfortunately, opinions, tools, time, and budgets squash the “quality” of a communication piece.  There will always be variables to walk through as a church leader but strive to make things look good for the sake of THE church.  I love seeing churches that dig deep to make sure they look good in their print material and digital communication.  Like I said in the previous point, sometimes less is more.  Give the design a second look and make it look good. 

Five: Be Consistent

There is nothing better than a well-polished rollout of an initiative when every interactional piece has the same look and feel.  We all see this each day with the big brands. Successful creative outlets do this well.  For instance, how someone sees a sermon series online should be the same design feel that person experiences on Sundays.  Also, on a bigger scale, the brand of your church should look and feel the same way no matter the platform on which you display content. 

What else does consistency do for you? Consistency makes your communication seem well-planned, prepared, and thoughtful.  You value those attending worship so make your presentation flow from all aspects. 

Six: Prioritize Those Outside the Church 

I mentioned this earlier, but I think the best group to focus on is the external audience.  Those outside the walls of your church should never be forgotten.  Take time to reach beyond your walls with drips of communication here and there.  Whether it’s on social media or signs in the neighborhoods, make sure people feel invited and informed of what God is doing inside the walls of the church.  

Even though houses may surround your church,  many of those families may not know you exist.  Church growth can happen in this realm.  Don’t forget them! 

Seven: Plan Ahead 

Oftentimes the opportunities for communication blunders happen in a rush, right?  While I know things happen and surprise the staff, a majority of the time you can plan ahead for what you need to communicate.  The business office likes to hear me say, “Good planning saves money.”  It is true.  Many times we pay more for rushed printing costs to barely make the last-minute deadline.  Be a good steward and plan ahead.  

Also, planning ahead shows a unified front as you can work together with other ministries in the church.  A long runway of planning can help spread events out which can help with “ad space” for each ministry.  Having too many events at one time can clog the ad space and only allow room for certain initiatives. 

Eight: Stick to an Avenue

Longevity means a lot as you lead your church, but longevity can also mean a lot to your audience.  Find the communication avenue that your audience appreciates the most and make that a priority on a consistent basis.  You may want to evaluate every year, but I challenge you to stick to a weekly communication rhythm for at least 3-5 years.  Take advantage of small tweaks along the way, but this will greatly help your audience find your information when they need it most.  In a pinch, they will know where to turn to find the most important information. If you move information too often, your audience will feel lost and unprepared/uninformed.  

Nine: Learn from Others 

We live in the YouTube/Google society where answers are a simple search away.  Find churches that might be similar to you in size and style and see what they do or don’t do well in terms of communication.  Follow their platforms and take note.  If you are looking at launching a new mobile app, for instance,  download many other church apps and learn what people are doing.  Also, most people are more than willing to help if you want to learn more about something another church did.  Send them a note and ask!  Don’t be afraid to try something new to keep learning how to better reach your audiences.  

Ten: Audit

Lastly, and often the most dreaded or forgotten tip, take time consistently to audit your communication efforts.  Draw the parameters you see fit, and I will guarantee something will be exposed no matter the depths you dig into an audit.  For example, print out all of your Instagram posts over the last 3 months and tape them to a wall.  Stand back and see what you are really telling people each week.  What posts work? What posts aren’t working?  This allows you a chance to make changes and pivot.  If you don’t take the time to evaluate, you might be spending months doing something that no one is paying attention to.  

I hope these ten tips inspire creativity as you look to improve your church communication.  Please feel free to reach out if you want to dig deeper.  

Author: Tanner Cade is the Director of Communication Services for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. He can be reached at tcade@mbcb.org